Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Crisis: Google (etc.), Computerized Neofascism, Hate, Women, "Neoliberalism"

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from August 15, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, August 15, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection (usually) from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from August 15, 2017

The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Google Doesn’t Want What’s Best for Us

This article is by Jonathan Taplin on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Google processes more than three billion search queries a day. It has altered our notions of privacy, tracking what we buy, what we search for online — and even our physical location at every moment of the day. Every business trying to reach mass-market consumer demand online knows that Google is the gatekeeper.

The fact that it is a monopoly, with an almost 90 percent share of the search advertising business, is a given that we have all come to accept. It’s Google’s world; we just live in it. So it matters how this company works — who it hires, who it fires and why.

When a company is dominant enough, it sets the tone for an entire era.
Ahem. I have not accepted Google, and neither have others. And one major reason for me not to use Google is that, indeed as sketched (not very well) above, Google is in fact a "neoliberal" neofascistic monopoly that has destroyed (quite intentionally) the privacies and therewith the freedoms of billions of people, that tracks what people buy, tracks what they search for, tracks where they are, and in fact tracks everything that the billions do merely to increase its own profits while destroying democracy, freedom, privacy, individuality, and independence.

And that is Google and why I don't use it. There is also this (and this is The New York Times):
For much of the short life of Silicon Valley, America has held a largely romantic view of the tech industry. Men like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were held in high esteem. But increasingly, companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook are coming under the same cultural microscope that questioned the “greed is good” culture of the 1980s. Viewers of the comedy series “Silicon Valley” note that uber-libertarianism and uber-geek machismo go hand in hand.
Well... I very much dislike Google and stopped using it. I very much dislike Amazon and never use it. (I buy my books at proper bookstores.) I very much dislike Facebook and never use it and don't visit it. I also always very much disliked Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg (always: I dislike extremely rich liars and deceivers).

My reasons are the same as for Google: These corporations are
neofascistic (and check that definition!).

Here is some background on how these monopolistic neofascist corporations work and what they (really) want:
The effects of the darker side of tech culture reach well beyond the Valley. It starts with an unwillingness to control fake news and pervasive sexism that no doubt contributes to the gender pay gap. But it will soon involve the heart of Google’s business: surveillance capitalism. The trope that “if you are not paying for it, you aren’t the customer — you’re the product” has been around for a while. But now the European Union has passed the General Data Protection Regulation, which will go into effect next May. This regulation aims to give people more control over their data, so search engines can’t follow them everywhere they roam online. It will be an arrow to the heart of Google’s business.
What these monopolistic neofascist corporations want is to change the internet into a
spying system
on absolutely everyone, where no one - other than the 1% of the richest - has any privacy whatsoever, and where the very rich have all the powers, and nobody else has anything to say, all on the lines of
“if you are not paying for it, you aren’t the customer — you’re the product”.

As to the European Union: I live in Europe, and I do not trust them at all. In fact, I do not know about the
the General Data Protection Regulation (I am sorry), but I do not have much faith in institutions that try "to give people more control over their data" while there are all manner of - secret and partially secret - "search engines" that can follow them everywhere, and do so since 16 years at the very least.

These are the foreposts of a totalitarian neofascistic society in which absolutely everything is controlled by the very rich, who only allow what benefits themselves.

Then there is this - and ask yourself who "We" are:
We have an obligation to care about the values of the people who run Google, because we’ve given Google enormous control over our lives and the lives of our children. As the former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris points out, “Without realizing the implications, a handful of tech leaders at Google and Facebook have built the most pervasive, centralized systems for steering human attention that has ever existed, while enabling skilled actors (addictive apps, bots, foreign governments) to hijack our attention for manipulative ends.”
Google has far too much control over the lives of virtually everyone. And the - so-called - "former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris" is spinning tales of lies when he insists that the "tech leaders at Google and Facebook" did not realize the implications of what they were doing: They did what they did precisely because they wanted total control of everyone's lives (except those of the very rich), and total control about their beliefs, knowledge, values, moneys, preferences, acts, and private opinions (which you can't utter anymore by way of a computer without its ending up in some secret NSA dossier (that may not have been read by human eyes)).

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article, that again invites the question who "We" - "
the citizens of the world" - are, simply because everybody has been totally deprivaticed and has become totally known to very many secret services (also if your dossier was - so far - never read by human eyes):

Somehow the citizens of the world have been left out of this discussion of our future. Because tools like Google and Facebook have become so essential and because we have almost no choice in whether to use them, we need to consider the role they play in our lives.

By giving networks like Google and Facebook control of the present, we cede our freedom to choose our future.

It has happened. And Google and Facebook, precisely like the NSA and the GCHQ, will never cede their universal presence and their universal knowledge of everyone, until they are wholly destroyed, which unfortunately requires a revolution. And this is a recommended article, which does need reading by informed minds. 

2. How We Got from George W. Bush to Donald Trump: Liberals Had More to Do with It Than We’d Like to Think

This article is by Anis Shivani on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

The arrival of Donald J. Trump feels like the completion of the cycle I was writing about in the early George W. Bush years. It is all too easy to get caught up in the moment, though fears are understandably high, and not think about the deep-seated anomalies and contradictions in the body politic that have brought America to the cusp of out-and-out fascism. Even if Trump’s policies turn out in the end to be not as fearsome as he has repeatedly stated, his explicit persona and policy positions take us very far out of the realm of normal democracy. It has become fashionable lately to excuse George W. Bush for being a “moderate” in comparison with Trump, but it should not be forgotten that Bush was the original American fascist; everything Trump, or a future would-be authoritarian, might do is predicated on the radical innovations Bush introduced in our political style, subverting the constitution and changing the balance between liberty and security in ways that have had permanent impact.

Ahem. I find the beginning fairly condescending (who is Anis Shivani?) and since I know a lot about fascism and neofascism (see here, for example, where no less than 21 definitions of "fascism" are considered) the first thing I want to say is that neither Bush nor Trump are fascists: Both are neofascists, in my sense, and the second thing I want to say is that Bush was not "the original American fascist".

I don't know who was, but it seems fairly to very certain to me that the rise of the present computerized neofascism started in 1971, with Lewis Powell's memo, and that it has continued and grown stronger and stronger ever since, indeed by continuous  deregulations and by the enormous powers computers, that are in fact hardly subject to effective legal control, give to their rich users.

There is also this sum-up, that is more or less correct, though it forgets about the thirty years from 1970-2000, where the preparations were made (and check out Brezinski, in case you want to know how computers were planned as THE tool of neofascism - then called "technotronics" - in the late 1960ies: See my Propaganda and Control: Brezezinski 1968):

Again we need to remind ourselves of how events took place in the Bush years with incomprehensible speed and bombast, of how shocking it was to deal with such phenomena as torture, rendition, black sites, enemy combatants, the loss of habeas corpus, open-ended surveillance, registration, mass deportation, stripping Americans of citizenship and political assassination — the de facto end of the Bill of Rights.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

The different interplaying factors — fascism, identity politics, neoliberal economics, terror, globalization — have all come to full fruition as any perspicuous observer might have noted for many years. Just after the conclusion of the Clinton presidency, it wasn’t possible to have such clear insight into exactly what neoliberalism was, how it operated in tandem with identity politics to bring about a facetious meritocracy that was really an upsurge of what later came to be known as the 1 percent taking over every aspect of power and leaving the rest of us in the dust.

Actually, I think it was quite possible to say in 2001 what the Clinton presidency was (a major fraud that consisted in deregulations that were sold as "freedom" and "demo- cracy", that laid the foundations for Bush Jr.'s neofascism after 9/11), but indeed I do not know of anyone who did, in 2001, though I am rather certain there were some.

3. Making America Hate Again

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Two days late, Donald Trump has finally condemned violent white supremacists. He was pushed into it by a storm of outrage at his initial failure to do so in the wake of deadly violence to Charlottesville, Virginia.

But it’s too little, too late. Trump’s unwillingness to denounce hateful violence has been part of his political strategy from the start.

Weeks after he began his campaign by alleging that Mexican immigrants were criminals and rapists, two brothers in Boston beat up and urinated on a 58-year-old homeless Mexican national, subsequently telling police “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

Instead of condemning the brutality, Trump excused it by saying “people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”

Yes, indeed. Incidentally, a reason why I do not write much about Charlottesville is that "everybody" seems to do so.

Reich also reports the following crap (which is not his):

One clue came earlier last week in a memo from Rich Higgins, who had been director for strategic planning in Trump’s National Security Council.

Entitled “POTUS & Political Warfare,” Higgins wrote the seven-page document in May, which was recently leaked to Foreign Policy Magazine.

In it Higgins charges that a cabal of leftist “deep state” government workers, “globalists,” bankers, adherents to Islamic fundamentalism and establishment Republicans want to impose cultural Marxism in the United States. “Recognizing in candidate Trump an existential threat to cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative, those that benefit recognize the threat he poses and seek his destruction.”

It seems to me a total lie and a total inversion of what is really happening, but then it is true that the GOP is moved by the same force as I encountered in the "University" of Amsterdam in 1978, when everybody was told the following neofascistic lie:

"Everybody knows that truth does not exist"

Since then neofascism thrived, in the "University" of Amsterdam (where the "Marxists" and the postmodernists embraced this teaching until well in the 2000s), and elsewhere. I was one of the very few who protested - and was called "a dirty fascist" for 12 years because I was not a Marxist, not a postmodernist, and believed in truth, rationality and science.

As I said, people who believed in truth, rationality and science were - violently - discriminated in the "University" of Amsterdam, and indeed I was also - even - denied the right of taking my M.A. in philosophy.

And this is a recommended article.

4. Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism

This article is by Kristen R. Ghodsee on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

When Americans think of Communism in Eastern Europe, they imagine travel restrictions, bleak landscapes of gray concrete, miserable men and women languishing in long lines to shop in empty markets and security services snooping on the private lives of citizens. While much of this was true, our collective stereotype of Communist life does not tell the whole story.

Some might remember that Eastern bloc women enjoyed many rights and privileges unknown in liberal democracies at the time, including major state investments in their education and training, their full incorporation into the labor force, generous maternity leave allowances and guaranteed free child care. But there’s one advantage that has received little attention: Women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure.

A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women. Researchers marveled at this disparity in reported sexual satisfaction, especially since East German women suffered from the notorious double burden of formal employment and housework. In contrast, postwar West German women had stayed home and enjoyed all the labor-saving devices produced by the roaring capitalist economy. But they had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.

How to account for this facet of life behind the Iron Curtain?

Actually, I don't know whether the women under socialism had better sex than the women in the West, but the article gives some evidence. It doesn't quite convince me, but then I do know that sex is very much understudied, both in the West and under "socialism" [2].

And the main reason this - fairly long - article is here is because it does give a somewhat decent picture of what "socialism" [2] was like, that also provides some reasons why my parents (whose lives were much poorer than mine, and who lived through WW II) were - genuine and courageous - socialists and communists.

I think they were mistaken, but they were not stupid. And this is a fairly good sum-up of some popular aspects of "socialism", and is recommended for that reason.

5. “The Changing of the Guard:” The Prescient 1980 Book That Foretold the Democrat Love Affair With Neoliberalism

This article is by NewDealDemocrat with an introduction by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism. It starts as follows:

About a month ago I read the synopsis of an interview in which Thomas Frank described the near evisceration of the Democratic Party.  Here’s his simple version:

[T]he Democrats have, what happened is that some years ago they decided they didn’t want to be the party of the people anymore. They didn’t want to be the sort of traditional Democratic Party that I grew up with, the party of Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson. That’s not what they wanted to be.

They wanted to be something different. This involved … It was an enormous transition in the Democratic Party all through the seventies, all through the eighties, all through the nineties until they are what we see them as today. They are a party that represents a group of very affluent white collar professionals. That’s who leads the party. That’s who they speak for. That’s whose issues they care about. That’s really who they are….

Yes indeed, and there is in fact a considerably better summary in the above article 2. And NewDealDemocrat is quite right that the evisceration of the Democratic Party started in the 1970ies (as briefly explained in article 2).

The article ends as follows:

But the ideology that Bill Black spoke of in June was already flowering 40 years ago — the turning away from traditional Democratic power centers, and from broad government programs anchored in economic populism, in favor of social issues and a commitment to lower taxation and more efficient fiscal prudence — espoused by a group that grew up in the post-war middle class suburbs and sought to appeal to those suburbanites first and foremost, taking for granted that the broad prosperity that those programs forstered would continue.

How much the country has suffered from how wrong they were.

Yes indeed.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better.

[2] My parents were communists (both for 45 years) so I was introduced to socialism and the Soviet Union before I was 8 (in 1958). I more or less believed in Soviet socialism until I was exposed to it in 1964, in the German Democratic Republic,
which completely cured me from believing that the Soviet Union and its allies were really socialist in the sense I understood the term (which by 1964 was fairly clear to me, both from my parents and from reading).

I think I was quite right, but that decision of mine of 1964 also was merely personal: Nobody in the - Dutch communist - circles I lived in thought the same.

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